Imprisoned Syrian journalist and human rights activist Mazen Darwish has won the 2015 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize.
An independent jury of international media professionals recommended Darwish for the Guillermo Cano award (valued at $25,000 USD) in recognition of his work inside Syria spanning 10 years, in the face of a travel ban, harassment, repeated detention and torture. The prize will be awarded during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, to be held this year in the Latvian capital of Riga.
Darwish won the British PEN Pinter Award last November, where a message had Darwish written from inside his Adra prison cell in the countryside of Damascus was presented at the award ceremony.
"Despite the ugly and tragic situation in my country, and in spite of the blood and destruction left every day by the patients of eternal power and the builders of the Caliphate State of ISIS, I honestly feel reassured about the future. Syria, which gave humanity the first alphabet and whose soil is mixed with thousands of years of civilization; Syria, which has always been open for all religions, sects and intellectual currents, will never be a slave to tyranny or terrorism", the message read.
Darwish, born in 1974, is a journalist and member of the International Federation of Journalists and the founder and president of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression. Darwish is also the vice president of the International Institute for Cooperation and Support (Brussels) and a member in the International Bureau of Reporters without Borders.
Darwish was arrested along with 13 activists in February 2012. He remains in prison until this day.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer